Colorado Vacations 
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Your Guide to Visiting Colorado with the Kids
Family Travel in Aspen, Colorado

The town of Aspen, Colorado, has its origins in silver strikes that lead to a very prosperous village growing up in the valley.

Today, families vacationing in Aspen will find a treasure of a little town, and riches of things to do, whether or not they ski.

Photo: At Aspen, Colorado, families can ski in one of the worlds most famous ski resorts.

Aspen, Colorado Family
Photo: A family strolls through the historic streets in downtown Aspen, Colorado

Photo: Aspen, Colorado offers vacationing families a mix of eclectic architecture,
stunning mountain backdrops, outstanding recreation, and top of the line cultural opportunities.

Frankly, the idea of traveling with your kids to Aspen, Colorado can be a bit intimidating. After all, it is famous as a play spot for movie stars and business moguls. But Aspen sunk its first roots as a gritty mining town, and while it cultivates its reputation as an expensive, high brow destination, many an average family has had a great vacation there, too.

Aspen's real estate prices may be in the stratosphere, (and the residents like them there - it adds an exclusive luster to their digs), but most of the buildings aren't all that fancy, although many have historical charm. Prices in the grocery stores aren't that much higher than they are down-valley, and parents have their choice of several restaurants happy to serve the kids chicken nuggets or a burger for a fairly reasonable price.

What's really special about the place is its outstanding scenery. It is a very pretty little town. This is the quality that adds the most luster Aspen, yet is free for all to enjoy.

The Lay of the Land:

Twelve or thirteen thousand years ago Aspen, Colorado was covered with thick rivers of snow and ice, but the glaciers have receded, leaving a fairly flat valley floor between rugged peaks.

Now the valley is filled with cottonwood and aspen trees, flower gardens, and historic buildings. The architecture of Aspen is a pleasing mix of vintage 1960’s ski lodges and other mid-century modern buildings jumbled between grand Victorian structures from Aspen’s 1880’s silver mining days.

The place developed organically as people used the resources they needed. First it was a Ute summer home, full of game, useful plants, and good water. Then Aspen was a rich source of silver for nineteenth century miners, industrialists, and investors. Now it is devoted mostly to serving ski slope pilgrims.

As you head into Aspen, Colorado with the kids, watch for two bridges over steep ravines. Mountain streams splash impossibly far below. A bit farther you circle a pretty roundabout full of aspen trees, and then rows of Victorian cottages greet you as you pull into town. Yet as you walk around, it feels a bit like a theme park, the buildings are so perfect, and the shops so inviting.

Isolated within a remote range of mountains, yet served by consummate chefs, haute couture boutiques, and top tier cultural events, Aspen’s little valley has a surreal feeling. But always grounding that is Aspen’s close relationship with nature.


The tiny town of Aspen sits in west-central Colorado, at the intersection of two mountain ranges within the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The mighty Sawatch Range runs from north to south just west of the central part of the state. The Elk Mountains, lying farther to the west, curve around and bump into the peaks of the Sawatch Range. Aspen hides between them, isolated from the rest of the state by long, winding, and sometimes very exposed roads. (Independence Pass into Aspen is closed in the winter.)

It is about a 4-hour drive from Denver to Aspen in good weather along the Glenwood Springs route. Add another hour or more if you plan to venture over Independence Pass.


A 2007 U.S. Census Bureau estimate put Aspen, Colorado’s population at 5,785, and showed that it has been declining since the population peaked in 2000. 

The population of Aspen today is roughly comparable to the 5,100 people that lived in the town at the height of its silver boom in 1890.

The permanent population swells with several thousand tourists during the high seasons. It is most congested during the winter holidays, especially the week between Christmas and New Years. All of ski season, up until April is busy. Fourth of July week sees an influx of visitors in the summer, as do the festivals - like the Aspen Music Festival.

Elevation and Climate:

While the mountains around Aspen soar over 13,000 or even 14,000 feet above sea level, the town, itself, lies along the Roaring Fork River at a very civilized 7,600 to 8,000 feet above sea level.

With an average high of 77° Fahrenheit, Aspen’s days are comfortably warm. But carry a jacket for cooler mornings, evenings, and afternoons when the thundershowers tend to roll in. Nighttime temperatures drop down into the 40s in the summertime.

In the winter in Aspen, the weather is cold, as you would expect. In December and January, the days typically warm up to just over the freezing mark. The highs that time of year average about 34° Fahrenheit. From that high point, usually in mid afternoon, the mercury drops into the single digits by the average night. That’s when the kids can have a good time making the snow squeak under their boots.

Aspen receives just over 23 inches of precipitation a year. The heaviest moisture comes as snowfall in the months of March and April. The locals don’t mind at all that the crowds are thinning out just as the ski conditions are at their best.

Related Links:

Skiing Aspen with the Kids
Colorado's Five-Star Hotels

Colorado Towns and Cities
Colorado Destinations

Skiing with the Family in Colorado
Round-up of Colorado Ski Areas
Hiking with Kids
Camping in Colorado